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7 Things to Add to Your Bedtime Checklist

You already know that sleeping well is a critical way to take care of yourself and your family. It also helps you maintain productivity, ensuring you have the energy to take on any other challenges that life presents each day. 

But do you do what it takes to ensure the sleep you get is sufficient and high-quality?

If you haven’t created a bedtime checklist or need some tips to make it more helpful in promoting healthy sleep, we’re here for you. Let’s break it all down now with our expert tips.

1. Set a Specific Bedtime

You may have thought that setting a bedtime is something only parents do for their children, but it has immense benefits for adults as well. 

Here’s what you should know about why going to bed at a specific time is so essential to your well-being. 

Why is it So Vital to Get Enough Sleep?

Being exhausted and sleepy due to lack of sleep causes problems the next day and long-term, which might include:

  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired vision
  • Higher risk of work or vehicle accidents
  • Stress
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Excess caffeine and sugar consumption
  • Diabetes and heart disease
  • Unhealthy weight gain

Skip staying up to be productive or to stream a suspenseful show you just can’t stop watching. Instead, go to bed at a specific time to ensure that you get a sufficient amount of sleep every night. 

Sleep experts and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommend that most adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Tips for Setting (and Sticking to) Your Bedtime

To select the proper bedtime, consider what time you need to wake up each day and choose a time that’s about 7-8 hours before that (depending on how long it takes you to fall asleep). 

Sticking to a schedule will help your body learn how to wind down when it’s time to go to sleep. 

Help yourself out by limiting evening commitments and social engagements to once or twice per week. Instead, ask friends and family to meet during the day or on weekends as a sleep-friendlier option.

Need help remembering when it’s time to head to bed? Use a bedtime app on your device to remind you. 

2. Avoid Stimulation One Hour Before Bed

Many people are unaware that their typical nighttime activities prevent them from falling asleep or getting quality rest. 

Luckily, there are some simple solutions. Let’s discuss the most common mistakes we make when we’re winding down for bed. 

Screen Time

Unfortunately, winding down for bed by streaming your favorite show, checking email and texting, or scrolling through social media is actually counterproductive. 

Why?

Anything with a screen exposes your eyes to blue light, which has the same effect as daylight. And daylight stimulates your brain so you can be alert during the day. 

The good news is that there’s no need to give up screen time completely to get quality sleep. It can still be a part of your daily routine, with certain limits. 

In fact, you can continue to enjoy movies, shows, social media, and video games. Just do so earlier in the evening. And be mindful of avoiding blue light at least one hour before you plan to head to bed. 

For your kids, turning off those devices earlier is even more crucial. Blue light may aggravate symptoms of ADHD and autism in young children and worsening sleep problems for older kids. 

Exercise

Physical activity is essential to your overall health and well-being. But not before bedtime. 

While it may seem like the exertion will burn energy and make you feel tired, exercising too close to bedtime is very stimulating for your body and brain. It can make falling asleep far more challenging. 

The solution? Hit the gym, trail, or workout classes in the morning or during the day, so you’re not too energized to fall asleep. 

3. Wash Off the Day

While many people bathe in the morning or after a daytime workout, adding your get-clean daily ritual to your bedtime routine checklist might help you wind down and get the quality sleep you need. 

There are other benefits, too. 

Taking a shower or relaxing bath cleans away pollution and germs that accumulate during the day. That means your bed stays cleaner. 

You might even avoid getting sick by removing these contaminants, limiting your exposure to toxins, bacteria, and viruses. 

If you prefer to stick to a morning shower, consider including a thorough face and hair wash or soaking your feet with cleansing Epsom salts. 

Check out these other tips for washing off the day as part of your bedtime checklist:

Switch Up Your Personal Care Products

If the products you use to freshen up in the morning tend to be more invigorating, try different products that promote rest. These include body washes and gels, bubble bath liquids, shampoo, facial cleansers, or bar soap. 

Look for products containing natural ingredients known for their soothing properties, like lavender, oatmeal, vanilla, and chamomile. 

Take Your Time

Often, bathing in the morning to prepare for the day ahead means rushing to leave the house on time. Being in a hurry worsens stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact your entire day. 

Fortunately, adding a shower or bath to your bedtime checklist can take some of the pressure off your morning ritual and give you more time to enjoy the experience fully. 

4. Do Something Relaxing

A beautiful bathroom sink with backsplash and lit candles

As discussed earlier in this article, some of the activities we typically consider to be relaxing are actually stimulating and make it more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. 

You now know to halt evening exercise, screen time, entertainment, and social interactions that stimulate and energize your brain one hour before bed. 

But also consider finding something relaxing to do so your mind and body naturally wind down. 

Need some ideas? 

These are some of the most highly recommended ways to relax at bedtime. 

Meditation and Deep Breathing

At its core, meditation helps you be still in the present moment without allowing your thoughts to wander. 

Experts recommend that you locate a quiet place with few distractions to sit or lay down, close your eyes, then focus on breathing slowly and deeply. 

If you find yourself beginning to worry, plan, ruminate, stress, or think about anything other than your breath at that very moment, simply redirect your mind to the present. 

Yoga or Stretching

Another fantastic way to relax is to include a yoga routine or stretching in your bedtime checklist. 

Being limber or athletic isn’t necessary to enjoy the benefits. In fact, more commitment to doing yoga or stretching before bedtime will yield improvement in flexibility and strength over time. 

Stream calming yoga videos or find a book of poses if you’re unfamiliar with this beneficial practice. 

Aromatherapy

Surrounding yourself with natural, soothing fragrances sets the tone for relaxation. 

Look for candles, incense, oil diffusers, and even linen sprays containing clean essential oils believed to promote sleep. 

Some of the most effective sleep-inducing fragrances include:

  • Clary sage
  • Bergamot
  • Sweet marjoram
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile

Have a Hot, Decaffeinated Beverage

A mug filled with something warm can provide comfort and help relieve the day’s stress, making it an excellent addition to your bedtime checklist. 

However, keep in mind that a drink containing alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or specific dietary supplements will likely interfere with your ability to transition into rest mode. 

Opt for herbal, caffeine-free teas or unsweetened milk (non-dairy and plant-based options are suitable alternatives). Pass on caffeinated tea, hot chocolate, alcoholic beverages, or immune support drink powders containing sweeteners and energizing B vitamins. 

5. Externalize Thoughts, Stress, and Creative Energy

We do so much in just one day. And, we tend to think about factors in our lives that cause stress and anxiety when we’re trying to fall asleep. 

We might also have new ideas and inspiration, which can inhibit a smooth transition into sleep. Externalizing your thoughts and energy can make it easier to relax. 

Try these methods to do so: 

Make Tomorrow’s To-Do List

Overthinking your day tomorrow while you’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep? 

You’re not alone. 

It’s common to feel anxiety about the next day at bedtime, mainly because you cannot do much about certain stress factors after hours. 

It can be helpful to make a to-do list for the following day about an hour before bedtime. It will help you relax and you won’t forget critical tasks during your hectic morning routine.

An alternative to a pen and notepad is a list-making board you can use with a dry erase marker. There are also free or inexpensive resources available online to help you get started.

To find yours, search for terms such as:

  • Bedtime routine
  • Bedtime routine printable
  • Bedtime routine checklist
  • Bedtime routine chart
  • Visual schedule - evening 

Some people prefer subscribing to apps and services that feature scheduled reminders and other ways of sticking to your nighttime routine. 

If you’re trying to help your kids develop a healthy nighttime routine, try approaches such as using a reward chart or routine cards to keep them on track. 

While you can purchase these items from a retailer, it’s easy to make DIY versions by designing your own materials with visual aids like clipart and fun fonts using standard word processing programs. 

Pro tip: laminate your chore chart creations so they last, and you can reuse them for multiple purposes. Offer stickers to young children who complete a daily responsibility, weekly chores, make progress with nighttime potty training or don’t push back when it’s time to start their bedtime routine. 

Start a Journal

Each day, we have a wide variety of both positive and negative experiences. 

We rarely have the space to reflect upon and process interactions or events that have affected us, whether we know it or not. 

Regardless of whether or not certain experiences have apparent implications for your emotional well-being, making a habit of writing in a journal helps unpack the day. 

You might be surprised at how this bedtime ritual helps you fall asleep. 

Practice Art

Perhaps you have some previous training or self-taught skills you can take up again and rekindle that passion. 

If not, don’t worry. It isn’t necessary to be a skilled or trained artist to benefit from a calming nighttime art practice at home.

If you aren’t comfortable with it, no one needs to see your creations. They’re just for your benefit if you want them to be. 

Replace screen time with sketching, watercolor painting, collage, or working with clay. You might also try crafting activities like knitting or building model ships. 

Find something that appeals to you, and invest in your passion. 

6. Make Yourself Comfortable

Comfort is essential for sleeping well. And, there are superb ways to make your environment and bed more comfortable you may not have considered. 

Which of these adjustments can you make to be more comfortable and sleep better?

Adjust Your Thermostat

While it’s true that keeping your thermostat set to one constant temperature eliminates the inconvenience of adjusting it for day and night, the effort is usually worthwhile. 

Temperatures during the day tend to be warmer because the sun is out and you are moving around. Once the sun sets and you’re less active, the environment will likely feel cooler at home. 

Depending on your regional climate and sensitivity to different temperatures, these factors might affect your comfort at bedtime (preventing you from sleeping well). 

Try adjusting the thermostat in your home at bedtime, taking your preferences, seasonal conditions, and the dynamics of you1r home into account. 

Add a Fan or Heater

If your home doesn’t provide sufficient comfort with central air, heat, windows, insulation techniques or doesn’t have these features at all, it might be time to invest in an appliance that can help. 

While there are undoubtedly luxurious exceptions, household appliances such as space heaters and fans are typically affordable and available in various price ranges. 

Simply creating airflow with a fan or adding a bit of warmth by running a space heater before bed can be a game-changer when it comes to sleeping better. 

Just be sure not to keep safety in mind: never run an appliance with a heating element while you’re asleep or leave children and pets unsupervised around any of these products. 

7. Take Care of Your Teeth

Closeup of a woman smiling with teeth

It’s tempting to skip your proper hygiene habits when you feel exhausted. Unlike deciding not to wash your face or take a shower, however, skipping your oral hygiene routine can have profound implications for your health. 

You’re probably already aware that proper dental hygiene is the best way to protect your teeth against sensitivity, cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. 

But it’s also crucial for avoiding serious illnesses such as:

  • Heart problems
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Infections (like pneumonia)

Smart Oral Hygiene Tips

Always make sure you follow these steps each night before bed:

  • Brush and floss your teeth
  • Use a fluoride mouthwash
  • Repeat if you eat or drink anything except water

Visit your dentist for any of these reasons:

  • Bleeding or sensitive gums
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Mouth sores
  • Facial impact incidents
  • Every six months for a routine cleaning

Do You Need a Night Guard?

Taking care of your teeth might also include remembering to clean and wear your night guard

Keep your night guard in a ventilated case or on a clean surface where it’s safe from pets and children. And make sure you wear it while you’re going through your bedtime checklist. 

If you don’t have a night guard, you might want to consider one. 

Why?

Even if you don’t currently experience oral and facial issues like jaw pain, teeth grinding (bruxism), or shifting tooth alignment, you can still benefit by avoiding these problems before they start. 

Not addressing tooth and jaw concerns by using a night guard to improve symptoms can worsen pain or put you at risk for more severe conditions like:

  • TMD/TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders)
  • Cavities (tooth decay)
  • Problems sleeping
  • Damaged enamel
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Gum disease

Conclusion

Having a healthy bedtime routine and setting the tone for comfort is essential to getting a good night’s rest. To do so, your bedtime checklist might benefit from a few of these tips. 

If you have questions about the importance of proper sleep and what might be preventing you from getting sufficient rest, feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help!